In today's news: Harper loses the message

Meanwhile, the PM risks being outflanked on energy and trade

Yves Logghe/AP

“The notion that Stephen Harper should bear any responsibility for the actions of his staff, or indeed his own, is one of those quaint relics of a bygone age, like outdoor showers or honesty.” —the National Post‘s Andrew Coyne

It’s a clean sweep. This morning, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Sen. Mike Duffy and the Senate are hogging all of the most read stories on the Maclean’s website. Mostly, Harper’s doing the hogging. Duffy had his time, and may again, as he punishes the Prime Minister for turning his back on Prince Edward Island’s humblest man. The Senate’s a sideshow, which is quite an achievement for an institution that few people cared to recognize as, well, relevant even a few weeks ago. The main event is, not surprisingly, the PM.

His party’s headed to Calgary, for a convention, and after several days of parliamentary pelting from the opposition benches. Remarkably, the Conservative faithful are gathering at a time when their party is actually flirting with third place in tracking polls. Trust those polls as little as you want—things can change in two years! pollsters aren’t relevant!—but losing a horse race has its effect on even the most ardent poll skeptic.

Justin Trudeau, the Liberal leader, is on his way out of the same city his political foes are about to invade. Trudeau was in town to tell a business audience why the Keystone XL pipeline is valuable and should be approved—and, importantly, why it already would have been approved if only the federal government hadn’t been so irresponsible. Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, writes in The Globe and Mail today about why the NDP could support the Canada-Europe trade deal, if only the federal government would release the text of the agreement.

So, as the Wright-Duffy affair and the broader Senate expenses scandal continue to wreak havoc on Parliament Hill, a pair of opposition leaders are attempting to outflank the PM on two of his most important files: energy and trade. Their success on those fronts is far from guaranteed, but Harper’s obviously got a few things on his mind. The longer he’s distracted by all this attention on whatever happened with Duffy, and whether or not anyone’s telling the truth, and how the Conservative base will react, and who knew what and when and why, and how long it’ll take for the PM’s ex-chief of staff, Nigel Wright, to speak up—

Let’s just stop there. But the man who makes his home at 24 Sussex Drive can’t champion pipelines and free trade, so long as all of those questions keep floating around. And there are so many questions. Where does he even begin answering?


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail The Senate won’t vote on suspension of three senators until next week.
National Post Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal admitted to doping 10 years ago.
Toronto Star Rob Ford friend Alexandro Lisi wasn’t the target of a broad investigation.
Ottawa Citizen A bidder for a federal rehabilitation project in Ottawa is on a Quebec blacklist.
CBC News Lisi’s warrant documents will be released to the public today.
CTV News Three federal parties are basically tied in the polls.
National Newswatch Jean Chrétien is happy he never appointed Mike Duffy to the Senate.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Adoptions. The United Church of Canada commissioned an internal review of historic adoption practices that concluded there was a tendency for women in maternity homes to give up their babies for adoption. The church has stopped short of calling for a national inquiry into the issue, and will discuss the report’s recommendations at an upcoming meeting.
THE GLOBAL India. A fiery bus crash in Hyderabad killed 45 passengers when the driver, among several others, fled the scene and left the vast majority of passengers locked on-board. Police questioned the driver, who remains unidentified, and also laid charges against the bus company. Only three of the charred bodies could be identified by authorities.
THE QUIRKY Bats. White-nose syndrome is believed to be behind the decimation of bat populations in North America. The disease, apparently imported from Europe, has killed millions of bats on the continent—including 99 per cent of New Brunswick’s little brown bat population. Meanwhile, wind farms may have done their part to kills a large number of bats, as well.

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